(L to R): Romain Grosjean (FRA) Lotus F1, Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren and Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing
Hamilton set the pace throughout and saw Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel fail to beat his benchmark of 1m 21.260s.
The German managed 1m 21.416s, and that withstood attack from McLaren’s Jenson Button (1m 21.583s), Lotus’s Kimi Raikkonen (1m 21.730s) and Ferrari team mates Fernando Alonso (1m 21.844s) and Felipe Massa (1m 21.900s).
Just to rub it in, Hamilton then lowered his time to 1m 20.953s, and in the final seconds Romain Grosjean thrust his Lotus round in 1m 21.366s to push Vettel down a place into third.
Thus the final order up front was Hamilton, Grosjean; Vettel, Button; Raikkonen, Alonso; Massa, Williams’ Pastor Maldonado (1m 21.939s); Williams’ Bruno Senna (1m 22.343s), Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg (1m 22.847s).
Q2 saw Hamilton lead Vettel by fourth-tenths of a second with a fastest lap of 1m 21.060s on the soft Pirellis, and Michael Schumacher’s luck run out when his last lap in the Mercedes was spoiled by a dust cloud from the errant Maldonado. That obliged him to lift off, and he thus qualified 17th.
Ahead of him was Mark Webber’s Red Bull on 1m 21.715s, the Australian being bumped by Senna right at the end, Paul di Resta’s Force India on 1m 21.813s, Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg on 1m 21.895s and Sergio Perez whose Sauber shared the same time. Then came Kamui Kobayashi on 1m 22.300s in the second Swiss car and Jean-Eric Vergne on 1m 22.380s in the lead Toro Rosso.
In Q1, the Red Bulls had ended up 16th and 17th courtesy of Webber and Vettel, as Hamilton set the pace on mediums with 1m 21.794s from soft-shod Di Resta and Button in a British one-two-three.
A very late run by Kobayashi was enough to jump the Sauber up to 15th, which meant that Toro Rosso’s Daniel Ricciardo was the first faller. The Australian’s 1m 23.250s thus left him 18th, with Heikki Kovalainen close by with 1m 23.576s for Caterham. Vitaly Petrov did 1m 24.167s in the second CT01, as Charles Pic again aced Marussia team mate Timo Glock, with 1m 25.244s to 1m 25.476s. Pedro de la Rosa had the upper hand at HRT, with 1m 25.916s to Narain Karthikeyan’s 1m 26.178s.
There are currently no grid penalties.